I think last Sunday and Monday at work, someone must have put a sign on my back saying, “Please! Make sexual jokes that will make me extremely uncomfortable!”

On Monday, I asked my patient if I could replace a few of her telemetry leads that were starting to unstick. These leads are placed in areas around the chest. She said ok, and then her 50 year old husband, (wearing hunting camo, I might add) said “Hey, remember yesterday when that young guy grabbed your boob to do that? I bet YOU felt young again!” I told them I could not guarantee a similar experience.

On Sunday, I walked in on my patient’s husband applying her hemorrhoid cream. I said, “Oh, sorry, I’ll come back in ten.” When I came back, I attempted to break the awkwardness by making a joke. I said, “Hoo boy, I’ve got some timing, huh?” The wife said, “Oh don’t worry, he likes it,” and the husband said, “I think I’ve got some Greek in me.”

I needed something wholesome after those experiences. Namely, my at-home interpretation of my favorite restaurant salad of all time. The beets are caramelized, the goat cheese is soft, the hazelnuts are toasted.

This salad is fantastic. I make it (and margherita pizza, and red wine that I have clearly started drinking far before dinner as you can tell by my near empty glass) when I want to be awesome.

If you make it, let me know how it goes! But please, don’t elaborate on too much else…

GREENS WITH BEETS, GOAT CHEESE, AND TOASTED HAZELNUTS

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 bunch beets (smallest you can find)

EVOO

1/3 cup raw hazelnuts

4 cups mixed greens

4 oz goat cheese

sherry vinegar, to taste

Salt & cracked black pepper

Recipe

Wash and dry salad greens. Set them in a bowl.

Take your goat cheese out of the fridge to let it get to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 400. Cut stems off beets. Cut off the little beet tail. Cut a large rectangle of aluminum foil. Line up beets in center of foil, then bring the long side and short sides together, creating a pouch. Put two or three tablespoons water in pouch, then crimp pouch shut.Cook beets 30-40 minutes, until just tender. Allow to cool.

Decrease oven temperature to 325. While beets cool, toast your hazelnuts. Spread hazelnuts onto a baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes, until toasted. Halve them and rub the skins off them with your fingers, if you like (a nice touch, but not necessary by any means).

Peel your beets with a vegetable peeler. Cut beets into quarters. Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO in a skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot, add beet quarters. Allow beets to cook in hot EVOO for 5-10 minutes, flipping them halfway. Remove when they are hot and arrange over the salad greens.

Toss the salad greens and beets with EVOO and sherry vinegar, to taste (I like about 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon EVOO). Sprinkle the hazelnuts and goat cheese over the salad. Sprinkle black pepper over the salad. Enjoy!

Celery root is the fugliest thing that’s been in my kitchen.

When I brought it up to the cashier at Sunflower, she said, “What… is that?”

But it’s tasty. And when caramelizing, it fills the kitchen with the most delicious, anise-like scent.

I find that during the holidays, my food desires alternate between things doused in chocolate and/or caramel and/or peppermint, and things that are healthy and hearty. I’ll show you how I most recently indulged my chocolate craving next post (oh, it’s a good one).

If you’re looking for something healthy and hearty, try this out. It’s even a vegan dish. I only realized it in hindsight. And it’s low calorie and high fiber. In fact, there’s only one problem with this dish. I’ll give you a hint that starts out like this: “Beans, beans are good for your heart…”

For more vegan recipes check out my vegan page

LENTILS WITH CARAMELIZED CELERY ROOT AND PARSLEY (adapted only slightly from Martha Stewart Living, December 2010)

You will ideally find and use French lentils for this (which are a bit thicker and heartier than regular lentils) but regular lentils are what I used and they worked just fine.

Ingredients

2 cups cold water

3/4 cup lentils

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium celery root (about 1 pound) washed well, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 small shallot, minced

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Recipe

1. Bring water and lentils to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, and gently simmer, partially covered, until lentils are just tender, 25-30 minutes. Drain lentils and transfer to a medium bowl.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium nonstick high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook celery root, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 18-20 minutes.

3. Add celery root to bowl with lentils. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, shallot, and salt and pepper to taste. Let cool. Divide among 4 bowls.

When I made my Pumpkin Ginger Butter, I realized how little I have been using ginger despite how much I like it. I decided rectify this situation immediately. I found this soup recipe and increased the amount of ginger by a bit. The result is a creamy (but cream or milk free) pureed soup with a mild kick of ginger. I really like it, and anticipate to make this throughout the Fall.

I always think its neat to get multiple uses out of a single vegetable. Though the original recipe gave the option of making Spicy Pumpkin Seeds as a topping for this soup, I wondered if the same could be done with butternut squash seeds. As it turns out, butternut squash seeds are good! I do prefer pumpkin seeds, as they are meatier and easier to gather from the flesh compared with squash seeds, but it is nice to use what you have instead of buying another thing from the grocery store. Since evacuating the seeds from the squash flesh is a bit labor intensive, you should feel free to substitute raw pumpkin seeds if you like.

I think its easiest to pull squash seeds from the flesh by running your fingers through the lines of seeds in the squash, then placing the seeds in a bowl of water. The water will make it easier to pull the remaining flesh off the seeds.

And speaking of getting 2 uses out of one vegetable, I have a neat trick to share with you that my friend Katherine taught me. You can freeze leftover vegetable scraps and chicken bones make your own chicken stock. Use anything that would normally go into chicken soup. Carrot peels, onion tops, celery leaves, chicken leg bones you’ve eaten most of the meat off of. Stick them in a Ziploc in your freezer and wait until the bag fills up. Then, place the scraps in a crock pot with some water, and run the crockpot on low heat for 10 or 12 hours. Strain the stock, then use immediately, or freeze the stock again in individual plastic containers for later use.

For more ginger recipes: Pumpkin-Ginger Butter and Sticky Chicken Wings

What I’m reading:

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND GINGER SOUP (Soup and Seeds recipes adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pureed Butternut Squash Soup)

Serves 4

Butternut Squash & Ginger Soup Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 piece (3 inches) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds small butternut squash, prepared and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Sour cream, (optional)
  • Spicy Butternut Squash Seeds (recipe below)
  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, sweet potatoes, and squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 4 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until squash and sweet potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Purée soup in two batches. When blending hot foods, allow the heat to escape to prevent splattering. Remove the cap from the hole of the blender’s lid, and cover with a dish towel. Stir in juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Serve hot, with sour cream, pepper, and pumpkin seeds, if desired.

Spicy Squash Seeds Ingredients

  • Seeds from your butternut squash (about 1/4 cup) or 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Small pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Spicy Squash Seeds Recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine squash seeds, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and lime juice; toss to coat.
  2. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until puffed and browned, about 10 minutes.

Carmelized Onion Fail

September 7, 2010

Not only were these inedible, but I was left with this mess to clean up. Sometimes, we don’t just fail. We fail miserably. I am still not sure what went wrong here. I started out by doing what I always do when cooking with onions. I chop them while wearing ski goggles so I don’t cry.

Will loves me so much. Anyway, next I put the onions in a dutch oven (as specified by the recipe) with some delicious melted butter. The smell was wonderful as the onions began to weep in the pot.

They became caramelized and brown. I talked to my cousin, Amy, on the phone, and she encouraged me to make a steak, and top it with caramelized onions and blue cheese. The anticipation was killing me. But then, they began to smell burned. I turned the heat down from the (recipe-specified) medium high to medium-low. They kept smoking. I couldn’t scrape the black bits off the bottom. I turned on my wall fan, and two portable fans, and the oven fan but the smoke started making my eyes water. The onions stuck to the bottom, then burned. Despite having 30 more minutes of cooking time, per the recipe, I salvaged what I could and tried then. They tasted like carcinogens. Yuck. And then I had to clean the pot. EPIC FAIL.

Do you know what I did wrong? I would love for you to tell me, please. Don’t make this recipe but here it is for the sake of education.

CARMELIZED ONIONS (from Everyday Food Magazine)

Ingredients

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

15 medium yellow onions (about 6 pounds total), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 teaspoons coarse salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon sugar

Recipe

In an 8 quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onions and salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, 35 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium. Add sugar and cook, stirring often to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of pot, 35 to 40 minutes (lower heat if bottom of pot begins to scorch)

When done, onions should be deep golden brown and have a jam-like consistency. Remove from heat; season with salt. Let cool completely. (To store, refridgerate in an airtight container, up to 2 weeks)

A few weeks ago, Will and me and our friends meant to hike a 14er, but weather delayed our athletic plans and pushed us into the loving arms of a delicious 4 hour happy hour. But then last week, Will and me and our friends Caitlin and Ben were not delayed by weather and accomplished our goal of hiking a 14er! Actually, we hiked two, but only because they were mostly adjoined. Here we are, enjoying ourselves at the top of Greys Peak.

It was an EXTREMELY long journey. Worthwhile, of course, but still extremely long. And when I got home I wanted (well, a nap, first) but then, something extremely salty to replace the profuse amount of back sweat I produced on the hike. I had salt, vinegar, and copious amounts of carrots from our last CSA pickup, and so, pickled carrots and cucumbers were born.

The actual brine is for a pickled carrot recipe, but I had a cucumber laying around in my fridge that otherwise would have been useless, so I doubled the brine recipe and tossed it in. The pickled cucmbers were good but the carrots–oh the carrots… now they are REALLY tasty. Pickled carrots are basically super crunchy and super tangy pickles. And they will put to shame anything you get from the cafeteria at work. So if you like your pickles extra crunchy, hit these up, stat!

PICKLED CARROTS & CUCUMBERS (adapted from smittenkitchen who adapted it from Gourmet Magazine)

Note: Ideally, you will buy small pickling cucumbers. If unavailable, use the smallest and firmest cucumbers you can find.

Another note: Though the pickled cucumbers are good, the pickled carrots are the true star here. To make this a carrots-only event, leave out the cucumber and halve the brine recipe.

Ingredients

1 pound carrots, cut into 3 1/2- by 1/3-inch sticks

1 pound cucumbers, cut into small rounds

2.5 cups water

2 cups  cider or plain vinegar (the former makes a sweeter, milder brine)

1/2 cup sugar

4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

3 tablespoons dill seeds or dill weed

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Recipe

Place carrots and cucumbers in a heatproof bowl or container, placing cucumbers on top (if they are on the bottom of a narrow container, they will float the carrots up to the top and partially out of the pickling brine). Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes. Pour pickling liquid over carrots and cool, uncovered. Chill carrots, covered, at least 1 day for flavors to develop.

Carrots keep, chilled in an airtight container, 1 month.

Will and I planned to hike a 14er today with two of my friends, but weather destroyed our outdoorsy plans. As a substitue we went out to lunch, went on a brewery tour, and then spent a luxurious 4 hours at my most favorite restaurant during their all-night happy hour. It was a great day. Perhaps the greatest moment is when the waiter mistakenly thought we ordered another round of beets. He said, “Oh, you guys didn’t order these? Well, would anyone like them?” And, though I was full of wine and tapas, my hand shot up like a rocket and I consumed my SECOND order of beets for the night.

In case you couldn’t tell by my story, or by simply knowing me and my accompanying oddities, I am, unabashedly, a beet freak. If you are jealous of my Beet Love and would like to like beets, this would be a good gateway salad to get you on the beet train. In the difficult-to-find but absolutely-wonderful Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters recommends creating a salad with beets, orange zest, sherry vinegar, and thyme. I thought a bit of goat cheese couldn’t hurt that lovely equation one bit, and I must say that was right. The only problem with beets is the stains they leave. Check me out.

HAWT. Out, damn’d spot! I always forget that even after I wash my hands I the beet stain still spreads to my dishtowels, silverware, arms. So how much do you think I liked this salad?

This is me licking the bowl. I am a classy broad. As Will said, “You know, Elizabeth, most people don’t just drink the leftover beet juice…” I am not most people. Clearly.

More on beets: Beets and Beet Greens

BEET SALAD WITH ORANGE ZEST AND GOAT CHEESE (adapted from Beet Salad from Chez Panisse Vegetables)

Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

6 small beets (scrubbed, tails cut off, greens cut off, about 1/2 inch stem left on beet)

3 splashes sherry vinegar

Zest of 1 orange

2 oz goat cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe

Preheat oven to 375. Place beets in center of a large, long piece of aluminum foil. Fold the edges over the beets and crimp them, creating a foil pocket. Open a small corner of the pocked and dump in a 1/2 tablespoon water for every two beets. Place beets-in-foil on a baking sheet. Bake beets in oven for 40-50 minutes, until fork tender. Allow beets to cool.

Peel with vegetable peeler when cool. Cut beets into quarters or eights, depending on size of the beets. Pop them in the fridge or freeze to get slightly cold, if you like. Add zest, goat cheese, sherry vinegar, and salt & pepper to beets. Toss beet salad. Enjoy.

Pickled Red Onions

June 22, 2010

I know what you are thinking. Does that hot pink color really occur in nature? Yes, it does. Isn’t it marvelous? It’s the result of adding apple cider vinegar to raw red onions. Elle Woods would be jealous.

I love summer barbecues. I have a group of immensely talented friends who like to spice up the typical BBQ with treats like grilled marinated zucchini, corn with herb butter, homemade pickles. It’s quite delicious. So to be a bit different, I thought I’d make some pickled red onions to go atop some burgers and brats at the last barbecue. Then I proceeded to forget to bring them. But they are still in my fridge and I am certain there is another barbecue on the horizon where others can enjoy them. They keep for 2-3 months refridgerated.

Pickled red onions can also be used to spice up a potato salad, to garnish a green salad, or to be used as a side for fried food. Pickled vegetables cut the grease of deep fried food. Perhaps that’s why I can eat so many fried pickle chips. Don’t knock ’em ’til you’ve tried ’em!

PICKLED RED ONIONS (adapted slightly from David Lebovitz’s Pickled Red Onions)

Makes 2 pint jars

Ingredients

1.75 cups apple cider vinegar

6 tablespoons sugar

pinch of salt

2 bay leaves

10 allspice berries

10 whole cloves

2 small, dried chile peppers

2 large red onion, peeled, and thinly sliced into rings
Recipe

1. In a small, non-reactive saucepan, heat the vinegar, sugar, salt, seasonings and chile until boiling.
2. Add the onion slices and lower heat, then simmer gently for 30 seconds.
3. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
4. Transfer the onions and the liquid into a jar then refrigerate until ready to use.